The winter months are here and the threat of freezing temperatures will increase the possibility of frozen and broken water lines at your premise. If this occurs, it can mean, at the very least, an interruption of your water service, and if a water line breaks, it could cause damage to your house and property, wasted water, and a very expensive water bill. If the District is required to make a service call, you may incur a service charge. To help prevent problems this winter, we suggest the following measures:
- PROTECT YOUR WATER LINES: Check all your water lines, from the meter to the house, to be sure there are no exposed lines or fixtures. This includes any lines that may be in the buildup area under the house, the attic area, any lines that are in the outside walls of your house, and any other lines that may be located in unheated areas, such as a garage. They should be sufficiently insulated to prevent freezing.
- DISCONNECT AND DRAIN OUTDOOR HOSES. All hoses should be disconnected from outside faucets. A single hard, overnight freeze can burst either the faucet or the pipe it's connected to.
- LOCATE AND USE YOUR WATER SHUT-OFF VALVE: Check for the location of your water shut-off valve and make sure it is convenient and working. The use of this valve is very important in preventing damage to your property. We recommend that your shut-off valve be located as close as practical to the customer's side of the meter box. DO NOT use the District's shut-off valve in the meter box. This valve is reserved for District use and if it is damaged by unauthorized use, you will be charged for its repair, and it could cause a delay if the District has to turn off your water in an emergency. Also, DO NOT remove the dirt or other insulating material from around the water meter, as it helps protect the meter from freezing.
- LEAVING YOUR HOUSE: If you leave your house for an extended period of time and leave the heat on, we suggest that you also turn the water off at your shut-off valve. If you turn the heat off, then the water should be turned off at your shut-off valve and the lines drained. Normally, your water heater does not need to be drained, if it has a gas pilot that is left on.
- MINIMIZE DAMAGES: If you depend on gas or electricity for heat to prevent your lines from freezing, be aware that these utilities can be interrupted, especially during storms or emergencies, and your premises may be without heat for an extended period. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT, if you leave your house for a period of time that the water is turned off at your shut-off valve. If your water lines freeze and break, water damage could be minimized and you may not incur a large water bill.
- FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS: For those of you who have fire sprinkler systems and choose to leave them active during your absence, you must make sure that you water lines and fixtures are protected from freezing. If you shut the water off, the sprinkler system may be inactive.
WHAT IF IT'S TOO LATE? What if you wake up one day to find the popes are frozen anyway? During an extended cold spell, it could happen despite precautions.
- Have the plumber's telephone number handy. Write it down before you need it in an emergency.
- If you think you know where the frozen portion of pipe is and want to try thawing it yourself, do not under any circumstances use a torch with an open flame! The whole house could catch fire. Also, overheating a single spot can burst the pipe. Heating a soldered joint could allow it to leak or come completely apart.
- The easiest tool is probably a hair dryer with a low heat setting. Wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe, not on one spot. If you don't have a hair dryer, you can wrap the frozen section with rags or towels and pour hot water over them. It's messy, but it works.
- Be careful because the pipe may already be broken. It's not leaking because the water is frozen. When you thaw it out, water could come gushing out. Be ready to use your shut-off valve if necessary.
It is the responsibility of each property owner and resident to protect their premises from freezing weather and to maintain the water lines on their property. We recommend that the water lines, water heater and fixtures be inspected on a regular basis and that the water be turned off at your shut-off valve any time that you are gone from the property for an extended period of time at any time during the year. If you do have a water emergency, please call the Water District for assistance at 909-338-1727. We hope that our suggestions will help you avoid expensive repairs, a high water bill, and a service call charge.